In plastic surgery consultation rooms across the country, many husbands who just come to provide emotional support for their wives soon find themselves on the business end of a scalpel as well. Male patients see it as the newest way to bond with their significant others, likening it to other activities they do together. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of aesthetic procedures performed on men increased 16% from 2000 to 2005.

Many couples who undergo plastic surgery together say they are already happy and that the procedures bring them closer. 

“They’re having eye jobs and forehead lifts so they don’t get traded in for a new model,” says Richard Fleming, MD, of Beverly Hills, Calif. “And as the cultural taboo against plastic surgery has lifted, a man is more likely to say ‘yes’ when a woman suggests it. After all, wives often do all the advance work—shopping around and interviewing surgeons—so it’s relatively easy for husbands to sign the papers when all the research is set before them.”

Among couples in their 30s and 40s, the women frequently seek a “mom’s body tune-up,” which consists of a postchildbirth breast lift, abdominoplasty, and lower-body liposuction. The husbands, who suddenly wonder how they’re going to look next to their wives on the beach, seek liposuction of the chest, neck, stomach, and love handles, in addition to a hair transplant. Couples in their 50s undergo an eyelid lift, an eyebrow lift, and a facelift.   

Regardless of the motivations, aesthetic procedures do have the potential to backfire. Surgery can change appearance so dramatically—whether its performed on one or both members of a couple—that it throws off the dynamic of a romantic relationship.  

According to Fleming, couples must talk about what each partner is personally looking to get from these procedures and whether the expectations are realistic.   

“Things like appearance and weight actually play a much more central role in the dynamic of a relationship, which means that some partners may feel very threatened and fear that their current partner will leave them for someone else,” says Fleming.

[Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2006]